Mobile army surgical hospital (US)

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U.S. Army Soldiers and Dilmurod local national interpreter train local Uzbek anesthesia providers on the 885 Mobile Anesthesia Machine at the Fergana Emergency Center in support of Operation Provide Hope.
Due to the popularity of the series M*A*S*H, colloquial use might refer to any mobile military field hospital.

The Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) refers to a United States Army medical unit serving as a fully functional hospital in a combat area of operations. The units were first established in August 1945, and were deployed during the Korean War and later conflicts. The term was made famous in the television series M*A*S*H, which depicted a fictional MASH unit. The U.S. Army deactivated the last MASH unit on February 16, 2006. The successor to the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital is the Combat Support Hospital.


The MASH unit was conceived by Michael E. DeBakey and other surgical consultants as the "mobile army surgical hospital." Col. Harry A. Ferguson, the executive officer of the Tokyo Army Hospital, also aided in the establishment of the MASH program. It was an alternative to the system of portable surgical hospitals, field hospitals, and general hospitals used during World War II. It was designed to get experienced personnel closer to the front, so that the wounded could be treated sooner and with greater success. Casualties were first treated at the point of injury through buddy aid, then routed through Battalion Aid Stations for emergency stabilizing surgery, and finally routed to the MASH for the most extensive treatment. This proved to be highly successful; during the Korean War, a seriously wounded soldier who made it to a MASH unit alive had a greater than 97% chance of survival once he received treatment.[1]

The MASH unit made its way into popular culture through the 1968 novel MASH by Richard Hooker, the 1970 feature film based on the novel, and the long-running television sitcom (1972–1983) also based off the novel. A 1953 film, Battle Circus, also took place at a MASH.

MASH units continued to serve in various conflicts including the Vietnam War.

During the Gulf War, in October 1990 the 5th MASH, 44th Medical Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, deployed to Saudi Arabia and was the first fully functional Army Hospital in the country. This unit moved forward six times, always as the first up hospital for the region. In March 1991 the 5th MASH was operationally attached to the 24th Infantry Division to provide forward surgical care (often right on the front battle lines) to the combat units that attacked the western flank of Iraqi Army. In March 1991, the 159th MASH of the Louisiana Army National Guard operated in Iraq in support of the 3rd Armored Division during Operation Desert Storm.

Other MASHs that served in 1990–91 included the 2nd MASH, 1st Medical Group, Benning, the 10th MASH, 1st Medical Group, Carson, the 115th MASH (DCARNG), the 475th MASH (341st Med Group, KY USAR), the 807th MASH (341st Med Group, KY USAR), and the 912th MASH (TN USAR). (Dinackus, Chart 2-4)

In 1997, the last MASH unit in South Korea was deactivated. A deactivating ceremony was held in South Korea, which was attended by several members of the cast of the M*A*S*H television series, including Larry Linville (who played Frank Burns), and David Ogden Stiers (who played Charles Winchester). MASH units have since been replaced by the U.S. Army's Combat Support Hospitals.

Worldwide, the last MASH unit in the U. S. Army was converted to a Combat Support Hospital on October 16, 2006.[2] The 212th MASH — based in Miesau Ammo Depot, Germany — was the first U.S. Army hospital established in Iraq in 2003, supporting coalition forces during Operation Iraqi Freedom. It was the most decorated combat hospital in the U.S. Army, with 28 Campaign streamers on the organizational colors. The 212th MASH's last deployment was to Pakistan to support the 2005 Kashmir earthquake relief operations. The U.S. State Department bought the MASH's tents and medical equipment, owned by the DoD, and donated the entire hospital to the Pakistani military, a donation worth $4.5 million.[citation needed]

The 212th MASH's unit sign now resides at the Army Medical Department's Museum in San Antonio, Texas.


Out of necessity, the "4077th MASH" unit depicted in the novel, movie and television series was considerably smaller than real MASH units. The fictional 4077th consisted of 4 surgeons, around 10 nurses, and 50–70 enlisted men. In an average 24-hour period, they can go through 300 wounded soldiers. By comparison, the 8076th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital had personnel including 10 medical officers, 12 nursing officers, 89 enlisted soldiers of assorted medical and non-medical specialties. On one occasion, the unit handled over 600 casualties in a 24-hour period.[3]

See also


  1. King, Booker; Jatoi, Ismail (May 2005). "The Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH): A Military and Surgical Legacy" (PDF). Journal of the National Medical Association. 97 (5): 650–651. PMC 2569328. PMID 15926641. Retrieved 14 May 2012. Air evacuation undoubtedly contributed to the dramatic reduction in the death rate of wounded soldiers in the Korean War, compared with previous conflicts (World War I, 8.5%; World War II, 4%; and Korean War, 2.5%)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Army's last MASH becomes a CSH". Retrieved 2016-02-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Office of Medical History". Retrieved 2014-04-23.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • 300th Mash: Desert Shield/Storm, Germany, 1991. S.l: s.n, 1991. OCLC 26838805
  • Apel, Otto F.; Apel, Pat. MASH: an army surgeon in Korea. Lexington : University Press of Kentucky, 1998. ISBN 0-8131-2070-5. OCLC 38738909.
  • Churchill, Edward D. Surgeon to soldiers; diary and records of the Surgical Consultant, Allied Force Headquarters, World War II. Philadelphia, Lippincott [1972]. ISBN 0-397-59053-9. OCLC 267039.
  • Cowdrey, Albert E. The medics' war. Washington, D.C. : Center of Military History, U.S. Army, 1987. OCLC 14378361.
  • Garrett Corporation. 45th MASH, Tay Ninh, Republic of Vietnam. Phoenix, Ariz: AiResearch Manufacturing Division, 1967. OCLC 701255387
  • Gouge, Steven F. Commanding the 212th MASH in Bosnia. Carlisle Barracks, Pa. : U.S. Army War College, 2001. OCLC 49979530.
  • King, Booker, and Ismalil Jatoi. "The mobile Army surgical hospital (MASH): a military and surgical legacy." Journal of the national medical association 97.5 (2005): 648.
  • Kirkland, Richard C. MASH angels : tales of an air-evac helicopter pilot in the Korean War. Short Hills, NJ : Burford Books, 2009. ISBN 1-58080-158-7. OCLC 318421406.
  • Marble, Sanders. "The Evolution and Demise of the MASH, 1946–2006: Organizing to Perform Forward Surgery as Medicine and the Military Change," Army History (Summer 2014) #92 online
  • Marble, Sanders. Skilled and resolute : a history of the 12th Evacuation Hospital and the 212th MASH, 1917–2006. Office of the Surgeon General, United States Army, Washington, DC, 2013. ISBN 0-16-092253-4. OCLC 861789107.
  • Porr, Darrel R. To be there, to be ready, and to save lives : far-forward medical care in combat. Carlisle Barracks, PA : U.S. Army War College, 1993. OCLC 28208258
  • United States. Army. Office. Chief of Army Field Forces. Airborne mobile army surgical hospital. Office, Chief of Army Field Forces, Army Airborne Center, 1951. OCLC 32681031.
  • United States. Department of the Army. Mission training plan for the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH). Washington, D.C.: Headquarters, Dept. of the Army, [1993]. OCLC 39193710.
  • United States. Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, 45th. Unit history of the 45th Surgical Hospital (8076th AU) : unit activation to 10 Aug 53. 1953. OCLC 14145260.
  • Watts, David M. The creation of the portable surgical hospital. [1982?]. OCLC 45409004.

External links